Brown projects himself as Prime Minister-in-waiting

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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown painted a clear picture of himself as the Prime Minister-in-waiting yesterday with a wide-ranging speech in which he extolled patriotism, praised war veterans, called on the young to join the cadets, condemned terrorism and defended some of the most controversial items on the Government's agenda.

The Chancellor risked angering civil rights campaigners at the Royal United Services Institute when he argued that police needed the power to hold suspects for longer then 28 days without charge. His comments put him on the Prime Minister's side over the issue on which Mr Blair suffered his first major Commons defeat.

Mr Brown also announced a government programme to get thousands of young people to join the cadets and be involved in "celebrating the contribution of our armed forces".

He said that the proceeds from the Trafalgar Coin would pay for an armed forces memorial in Staffordshire, and outlined plans for a National Veterans' Day each June, with ceremonies in every constituency and medals for veterans.

He argued the case for making "glorification of terrorism" a criminal offence, which was thrown out by the House of Lords and returns to the Commons tomorrow. The Chancellor also added a detailed defence of government policy on ID cards, a few hours before yesterday's crucial vote in the Commons, and promised to provide state funds for a memorial to the victims of the London attacks on 7 July.

However, his former cabinet ally Clare Short said she thought the Chancellor had been "diminished" by having to "stick up for everything Blair's done". She told BBC2's Daily Politics: "The party wanted him as an alternative to Blair."

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